JAPAN TO SEND VESSEL TO RESEARCH AITAPE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI

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TOKYO, Japan (December 9, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The Japan Marine Science and Technology Center reports it will send a deep-sea research vessel to Papua New Guinea in January to study last July's tsunami, which devastated the northwest part of the country.

The vessel, Kairei, will be part of a mission involving some 20 researchers from Japan, Britain, the United States and Papua New Guinea.

The 4,600 ton vessel will monitor the seabed and collect mud in an effort to find out what changes have occurred since the disaster.

The earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the open-ended Richter scale, struck the Aitape coast of Papua New Guinea on July 17.

Tidal waves of 10-15 meters (33-50 feet) high hit coastal villages, leaving more than 2,000 people dead and some 10,000 others in care centers or hospitals.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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